Having idolised Manchester United’s Allenby Chilton as a child, Mark Jones signed for his hero’s club in 1948. After captaining the schoolboy sides of both Yorkshire and the North of England, it was whilst representing England Schools that Jones had caught the eye of United’s scouts. Continuing to live in his home town of Barnsley, Jones travelled to Manchester twice a week for training and matches. In 1949, and at the age of 16 and a half, he became the youngest man to play for the reserves.
Jones was invited to trial for United in 1948, by club legend, Louis Rocca.
In the summer of 1950, Jones signed professional forms with United, moved into digs, and made his first team debut in October the same year. He telegraphed his girlfriend, June with the message “Playing in the first team, try to get here”, resulting in excited family and friends requisitioning a bus to get across the Pennines to Old Trafford. The first player to congratulate Jones on his debut was his hero, Allenby Chilton, whose centre-half position he had taken. However, despite a good performance, the older man played every match for the next three seasons, with Jones’ waiting game becoming a joke between the two players.
League winners medal presented to Mark Jones in 1955/56. When United won the League in 1956, the average age of the team was 22, the youngest side to win the competition.
In 1955, he was given the opportunity to make the position his own. Crushingly dominant and commanding in the air, the enormous Jones was ever ready to help a teammate in trouble.
Jones had green thumbs and was always looking for new things to grow.
Outside of football, Jones enjoyed the simple things: his pigeons, his pipe and his dog, Rick. Jones also kept and trained budgies, and reportedly once missed a training session as one of them was sick. ‘Farmer Mark’ was seen as an older brother, despite his young age, and was a stable influence for some of the players, always on hand to ensure his teammates did not overdo things.